As nostalgia fans are well aware, the majority of 1990s music, movie, and TV stars are still with us today, many of them still working and making public appearances, though there are also those who have retired from the public spotlight. Sadly, though, there are a few ‘90s stars passed away far too soon, giving fans who return to their favorite entertainment from that decade a sad answer when they wonder, “whatever happened to her?” Over the years, there have been quite a few high profile deaths of ‘90s stars, from big celebrities to far too young ones to those who passed away from mysterious and/or dramatic causes of death. No matter the cause, though, there's no question that the late '90s stars below are missed by many, and that their work in Hollywood still looms large today.
Many of you likely distinctly remember when you first heard that one of the below icons had passed, and how shocked and saddened you likely were. The life of a celebrity might seem blessed, but fame comes with notable risks: obsessive fans, the stresses of public scrutiny, and, often, easier access to dangerous and addictive substances. Reflecting on the lives of ‘90s stars we lost too soon, it can be painful to imagine how pop culture would be different if they hadn’t passed away so young. What funny movies would they have starred in, or what music would they be putting out today? It’s an impossible question to answer for sure, but the world would certainly be better off with these 17 ‘90s stars still in it today.
1. Brad Renfro
The Client and Ghost World star died of an overdose at the far too young age of 25.
The beloved R&B singer and budding actor was tragically killed in a plane crash at 22.
3. Madeline Kahn
While the comedic actor was working long before the '90s, she was active in many movies and TV shows during that decade, from Cosby to A Bug's Life. She died of ovarian cancer at age 57.
4. Tupac Shakur
5. James Avery
The actor, best known for his role as Uncle Phil on Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, passed away at age 68 in 2014.
6. Lee Thompson Young
The actor began starring in The Famous Jett Jackson in the late '90s. He died in 2013 at age 29, having found success on Friday Night Lights and Rizzoli & Isles.
7. River Phoenix
The iconic '80s and '90s movie star tragically died of an overdose at age 23.
8. Brittany Murphy
Murphy, who starred in Clueless and so many more classics, died mysteriously at age 32.
9. Michelle Thomas
Thomas, who had recurring roles on The Cosby Show and Family Matters, died of cancer at age 30.
10. Lisa Robin Kelly
Kelly appeared in lots of movies and TV shows before her big break as Laurie on That '70s Show. She died of an overdose at age 43.
11. Brandon Lee
Bruce Lee's son tragically died on set while filming the 1993 movie, The Crow, at age 28.
12. Heath Ledger
Ledger, who starred in the '90s classic 10 Things I Hate About You, died at age 28 at the peak of his career.
13. Corey Haim
The '90s teen idol and The Lost Boys star passed away at age 38 from pneumonia.
The Mexican-American singer and actor was tragically killed at the age of 23.
15. Natasha Richardson
The '90s movie star, who won audiences over in The Parent Trap, passed away in 2009 after a skiing accident at age 45.
16. Anna Nicole Smith
The '90s model, Playboy playmate, and actor died of an accidental overdose at 39.
27. Lisa Lopes
Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes, one third of the '90s girl group TLC, died in a car accident at 30 years old.
Rest in peace to these artists and entertainers, all of whom are able to live on in their work.